Social Radar

March 2012
Topics: Collaborative Computing, Social Behavior
Barry Costa, The MITRE Corporation
John Boiney, The MITRE Corporation
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Events like the so-called "Arab Spring" underline the need for the United States and its allies to reliably monitor the global information environment, so that they can build sociocultural understanding, anticipate change before it happens, and plan for appropriate action regarding adversaries and general populations. Today's diplomats, developers, and defenders require an integrated set of capabilities that we refer to as a "social radar." Such a system would support strategic- to operational-level situation awareness, alerting, course of action analysis, and measures of effectiveness for each action undertaken. Success of a social radar depends on continuous access to global data on perceptions, attitudes, opinions, sentiments, and behaviors. Much of the most timely and valuable data will be found in social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and various blogs. In this paper we discuss current approaches and prototypes that implement capabilities in the area of multi-data type processing and analysis, describe remaining shortfalls, and propose ways ahead for research and integration. Based on what we have learned through our involvement with research and transition projects in this domain, we believe that current and planned prototypes of a social radar may allow users to understand the cultural environment, achieve more complete situation awareness, and model alternative courses of action that the United States and its allies could employ to meet a variety of challenges. Further, these prototypes can address the challenges of using social media and other data to support timely understanding and effective dialogue, provide warning, demonstrate the effectiveness of social media proxy polling as a potential substitute for traditional polling, determine and monitor group sentiment across the globe, model the effectiveness of our proposed engagements, and measure the effects of such engagement in designated situations.

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